Because her father was an entomologist, Reagan Lake grew up trudging through the outdoors, accompanying him on insect hunts. Developing fearlessness in her encounters with nature, she obtained a graduate degree in conservation biology, and her study took her to the Brazilian Atlantic Coastal Rainforest to research and reintroduce the endangered Golden Lion Tamarin (L. rosalia). From a scientific perspective, Lake learned to detect and note patterns as part of data gathering, while her artistic inclination discerned their beauty. With both protocols, she has an eye for order, but the emotion and freedom from constraint of making art superseded any desire to document and interpret.
The power of her painting may reside in a personal exorcism. In an exchange between the systematic and the spontaneous, she begins with a drawing of botanical or biological forms in which she finds intriguing negative spaces. Setting about her process of applying acrylics, Lake lets the repetition and geometry speak to her in her choice of hue and shape. As the original imagery is camouflaged with vivid color and calligraphic gestures, she lets go of the need for order, allowing the patterns to become random and yielding to the drips and messiness of the painting process. Working with transparency and density as well as varying texture, Lake creates intricate visual screens that reveal the enchantment of nature. In her most recent series of work, she further obscures their origin by cutting her work into pieces and recombining to create novel compositions.